SpecAir, Pioneers in Re-Usable Portable Cylinders



SpecAir started it all.

Right now Portagas and Gasco are the reusable portable cylinder kings right behind the giant Calgaz which company dominates the world of portable cylinders like a colossus.  Calgaz, has, as they say, the money keep that profile for a while to come.

While the debate continues as to whether disposable portable cylinders or re-fillable portable cylinders has the better carbon footprint (kind of like discussing organic foods in a room half full of vegetarians and half full of barbecue black belts) it's interesting to ignore the zealots and take a look at the company that really broke in the ideas.  In this case, it all unfolded at a company named SpecAir- they did it first.

SpecAir came out with refillable portable cylinders with the same CGA valve interface that disposable cylinders were using- they did this over thirty years ago and Called their product Enviro-Cyl.  They took the lead and kept going before the other disposable calibration gas companies even considered the idea.

Here's how they describe their offering:

The SpecAir Speciality Gases product line offers a refillable, portable calibration gas cylinder as an alternative to standard disposable cylinders. The Enviro-Cyl product calibration gas cylinder offers many advantages over disposables. They are:

• Portable, light weight and refillable aluminum cylinders

• Economical 50-100% more capacity than disposables

• No cylinders to dispose of...simply return for refill

• Eliminates disposal fees and regulatory paperwork

• No more problems with landfills or recycling 

• Cost efficient; no deposits or rental fees

Enviro-Cyl cylinders all come with a brass or stainless steel valve, safety on cylinder valve, and a 5 year DOT stamp.

Nice idea when they came out with it.  Still a great idea pushed by a great company.

Hats off to SpecAir.

Introducing H2SMAXX™ Stabilized H2S Calibration Gas


We've been hard at work improving the stability of hydrogen sulfide calibration gas mixtures. It's been so interesting we haven't posted in a while, but boy is it interesting work.

By using our Ideal Cylinder Coating™ and combining it with a specially created hydrogen sulfide source gas we've been able to achieve superior stability for this formerly awkward gas mixture.  H2S mixtures were the reason fixed flow regulators without control knobs were created.  Even that tiny bit of humidified air introduced when a regulator is screwed into a C10 fitting is enough to cause problems when you're at the 10 ppm or lower range with an air balance!

H2SMAXX™ is a better solution.

If you've ever heard gas chemists talk about the H2S tendency to self-oxidize and wondered whether it was a real or hypothetical concern, H2SMAXX should answer a lot of these questions.

We'll have more to talk about on this topic over the coming weeks.

Midnight Devils

A Bad Place to Lose Your Mask
In what amounts to an out and out war with emergency responders and civilians, an underground army of toxic thugs litter our countryside with discarded piles of unlabeled toxic materials in glass bottles, cylinders, leaking crates, and 55 gallon drums.
Imagine firemen, police, or HAZMAT personnel entering an abandoned warehouse that has caught fire. Abandoned is the key word here. It's supposed to be empty, but instead is stacked full with 55 gallon drums filled with mutagenic chemicals that are also "skin permeable," or that can eat through protective clothing. How about rooms filled with illegaly dumped glass bottles of laboratory grade sulfuric acid in a burning building. Hot sulfuric acid burns through a lot of things. It's a nightmare scenario.
Try this- imagine going into a supposedly empty burning building that you suddenly discover is filled with discarded acetylene cylinders left by an illegal dumper who showed up in the middle of the night with cylinders filled with highly dangerous gas and simply unloaded them into the building without instead properly disposing of the gas.
In Detroit, we have a big problem with this sort of thing as there are a lot of "empty" buildings. Fortunately, in Michigan (as in an ever-increasing number of states) they take this very seriously. We have an active participation in the EPA's Illegal Dumping Prevention Project.
On their EPA website it says, "Illegal dumping is a major problem that raises significant concerns with regard to safety, property values, and quality of life in our communities. In addition, it is a major economic burden on local government, which is typically responsible for cleaning up dump sites.
"The Region 5 Illegal Dumping Prevention Project was established to exchange information and establish partnerships to develop and implement strategies to combat illegal dumping. The overall goal of this effort is to add value to local efforts to prevent and mitigate illegal dumping."
My question is this- how is an emergency responder supposed to deal with dangerous chemicals they don't even know are there?
For example, I know of a facility with 200 pounds of toxic chemicals they didn't declare because they were shipped to their building by a company that said they'd be right there to pick them up but went out of business the next week. Those chemicals were there for 10 years before the owner had the money to get them out. Damned good thing there wasn't a fire before he took care of it.

How Does a Responder Handle Something Like This if They Don't Even Know it's in the Building?

Ideal Gases Announces Licensing for Ideal Cylinder

  Calibration Gas Cylinders


The success of Ideal Gases, Inc. coated cylinder for improved calibration gas stability has led to the licensing of the Ideal Cylinder technology to Integrity Cylinders.

The new product offering will include both coated aluminum cylinders and coated steel cylinders.

More information on Integrity Cylinders will be available in the next post.

Ideal Calibration Gas for BW Technologies PN CG2-H-25-34 Calibration Gas

Ideal Calibration Gas Mixture: 25 ppm H2S/ balance nitrogenCylinder size: 34 liter Shelf life: 3 years

calibration gas


Our prices are better than OEM’s and distributors for replacement BW Technology Calibration Gas:

Ideal Gases, Inc. is the premier manufacturer of calibration gas standards in portable cylinders. OEM Gas Detector Manufacturers are resellers. We actually make calibration gases.



  1. Ideal replacement BW Technologies Calibration Gas Standards meet or exceed the most demanding industry specifications for OEM calibration gases.
  2. Ideal replacement BW Technologies Calibration Gas Standards have a longer shelf life. That’s what the Ideal Cylinder patent pending process is all about. Which means you can keep a smaller inventory and save money, too.
  3. We know what you need. We are expert in both the manufacture of Ideal replacement BW Technologies Calibration Gas Standards and in the repair and maintenance of your gas detectors.
  4. Every Ideal replacement BW Technologies Calibration Gas Standards cylinder is individually manufactured. Standards don’t come in batches. That’s why we make them one at a time instead of bulk transfers like resellers.

Buy Direct. Get the best price.

And remember- gas detectors and gas monitors are only as good as the calibration gas used to calibrate them.  But an incorrectly calibrated gas detector or gas monitor isn't worth much at all.

That's why we offer these videos on how to calibrate your gas detectors and gas monitors with calibration gas.  They're prepared by James Moore of Ideal Calibrations, LLC.

And anyone involved in the calibration of gas detectors should be sure to read Bulletin SHIB 05-04-2004 from the Department of Labor titled Verification Of Calibration for Direct-Reading Portable Gas Monitors.

Toxipro H2S Detector Calibration Video
Sperian Biosystems PhD Lite Gas Calibration
iBRID MX6 Gas Calibration
RKI Eagle Calibration Guide
RAE Systems QRAE II Gas Detector Calibration
ISC M40 Gas Calibration
MSA Sirius Gas Monitor Calibration
BW Technologies GasAlert Quattro Gas Calibration

The Myth of NIST Traceability for Calibration Gases in Disposable Cylinders- Part Two of Four

inventor small

C10 valves were not invented by aliens, but they should have been.

Here's an alien idea- if you want true NIST traceability for a calibration gas in a disposable cylinder (don't believe the hype- there really isn't any for true NIST traceability for mixtures in disposable cylinders- see  Part One in this series of posts)- why would you put it in a cylinder with a valve/regulator combo that immediately destroys the integrity of the calibration gas?

C10 valves and NIST traceable gas mixtures hate each other.

The problem is the C10 valve/regulator combo.  It was never designed for a calibration gas package.  Think I'm kidding?  Not only were the cylinders in use for calibration gases in disposable cylinders designed for the application, the valves weren't either!  That's why you should laugh at any vendor claiming true NIST traceability for the calibration gases in disposable cylinders.  They pretend they're traceable (the McCalgas vendors do this all the time) by throwing in weight numbers not even used to make the mix in the disposable cylinder itself- they were used for another cylinder which was then transfilled into that and a ton of other disposable cylinders which destroys an traceability they might have had.

But, back to the point- C10 valve/regulator combos let room air back into your calibration mix.  This is why for a while some instrument companies recommended using regulators with no control knobs.  It helps a little, but I'm designing a C10 regulator with a serious bleed/purge valve built in.  Who wants the humidity from room air mixing with their calgas?

The Dirty Secret- Push Button Valves Are For Dummies

Think about it- when you screw that regulator in, the gas shoots up from your disposable cylinder and- surprise- the room air inside your C10 regulator is now part of your gas mixture.

Unless you use the Ideal Valve, which prevents the moisture-laden (humidity) air trapped in the regulator from back-flushing into the calibration gas in the disposable cylinder.  More on that next installment.

The Myth of NIST Traceability for Calibration Gases in Disposable Cylinders- Part One of Four

assay weight

Technically speaking, NIST traceability for calibration gases in disposable cylinders isn't a myth, but the way an increasing number of gas companies portray it is.

I was asked the other day about NIST traceability for what is commonly known as "quad gas"- mixtures of H2S/ CO/ CH4/ O2 with a balance of nitrogen.

"There isn't any," I said.

"Sure there is," responded the fireman who was inquiring.  "It's on the cert sheet for every calibration gas mixture I buy."

"Sorry," I said.  "The NIST doesn't have quad gas SRM's.  They're probably feeding you that line of crap about weight traceability.  They use that to validate themselves.  You probably haven't ever taken the time to check out what calibration gas Standard Reference Materials the NIST supplies, have you?"

"Well..... no," he confessed.

"How about this- have you ever read the NIST Traceability Mission Statement?"

"Uh, not really."

"Okay," I said, "before we go any further, why don't you check out http://www.nist.gov/traceability/nist_traceability_policy_external.cfm just to get started?  After you do that, we can start talking about why NIST traceability for calibration standards in disposable cylinders is mostly crap."

"Strong language," he said.

"Stick with me and I'll show you why it is next time we talk."

What Really Caused This?

This is still frightening even seven months later. More frightening still is trying to find out an openly disclosed cause for the incident. Go ahead, Google it and try to find out. It's so hard to find anything it's scary.

Go ahead- search the web and if you can find out the disclosed result without too much work.

There's no need to keep this so quiet. Litigation is one thing, but the rest of of us need to know what happened. It could help the rest of us stay safe.

Preventing Propane Fires and Explosions

Fire Fighter and Flames

The propane industry is filled with ostriches.  Their safety directors have their heads buried in the corporate sands.

If you don't believe me, ask the drivers who deliver propane to homes.

Ask them why they don't carry flammable gas detectors.  They are, after all, hauling flammable gas down our highways.

Oh, wait.  Companies like Amerigas, Crystal Flash, FerrellGas and Blue Rhino- to name just a few of the hordes of propane suppliers out there- don't feel like spending the money.

What a shame.

Maybe their employees and customers are indestructible.  Or fireproof.

Yeah, that's it.


Secrets of Calibration Gas- Part 2 of 3

assay weight


"So," he tells me.  "Gravimetric standards are the best, right?  I'm looking at this calibration gas bottle and it came wrapped in this "Certificate of Analysis" where it gives all this NIST weight numbers.  It says all the weights they used to make the standard are Traceable to the NIST.  And since it gives their weight numbers, I figured you'd think that was the best I could get."

"You're talking about a calibration gas in a disposable cylinder?"  I asked.

"Well, yeah, it's for a gas detector."

He was looking a little uncomfortable.  We'd had lots of discussions on things like this over the years and he usually didn't like what I had to tell him.

"You believe all that stuff?"  I asked.  "I keep telling you the same thing all the time.  Big companies use weights for big cylinders.  It's normal.  Then they sell those big cylinders- usually the 150 cubic foot aluminum or the 200 cubic foot steel- to other companies who dump that mixture into small cylinders.  Let's say they pay $130 to $200 for one of these big cylinders, then dump into small cylinders and sell them for $100 to $200 each.  They make a lot of money doing that."


"But you're paying for a calibration standard.  And the supposedly gravimetric disposable calibration standard you're paying for is not a gravimetric calibration gas standard if it wasn't itself weighed.  It was the source cylinder that was gravimetrically prepared."

He looked confused.

"So," he asked, "are you saying that...?"

"That the disposable calibration standards you're buying aren't really gravimetric standards."

"Isn't it the same gas that's inside the disposable?"

"Not necessarily," I said.  "And it's even worse than that.  I'll tell you more next time."


Safety Relief Disc Problem Real or Myth

CO2 cylinder upside down

Anyone with a brain cringes when they see a compressed gas cylinder being put in a trunk.  Acetylene is bad, of course, but no compressed gas cylinder should be hauled around that way.  A compressed gas cylinder, after all, is a hazardous material for a reason.  So, for anyone with a brain, it's an easy call.  Just don't do it.

Years ago, an industry "expert" told me about a different type of compressed gas cylinder problem, and to this day I've never determined if it's a real issue or not.  It involves cylinders containing liquefied gases shipped under their own vapor pressure.  In common parlance, we're talking about cylinders of CO2 (carbon dioxide), or nitrous oxide or propane.  All three have liquid in them- the amount will vary with the size of the cylinder and the specific gas- and a vapor head.  Roughly 2/3 liquid and the rest head space.

Most cylinders have safety relief valves as part of their design, and in the case of the upside down cylinder above that safety relief housing covers a frangible disc which will rupture at an appropriately designated pressure to keep the cylinder from exploding if over-pressurized.  The safety relief device housing has a number of ports through which the gas exits in the event that the frangible disc ruptures, and in this manner the gas is safely discharged before the cylinder can be compromised.

It's a great system and very effective.

However, what I was told was that if a cylinder with a liquefied gas was inverted the relief device wouldn't work efficiently, since the frangible disc would have liquid against it.  The idea was that the liquid would form a meniscus  over the disc and prevent it from functioning.

The reason some people invert a cylinder is to draw liquid from the valve- they've probably never heard about a dip tube (which can provide liquid to the user without inverting the cylinder).

To this day, I don't know if the thinking about liquid forming a meniscus around the frangible disc which prevents it working is true or not.

But I do know it's stupid to test the theory.

If you need liquid from a CO2 cylinder, get one with a dip tube.  Your local gas vendor will know what they are.

Better safe than stupid.


Carbon Monoxide, A Clear and Present Danger



We've partnered with the Esco Institute's publishing division to promote awareness of the dangers associated with carbon monoxide exposure by offering their latest book on the subject to those who need it most.  Carbon Monoxide a Clear and Present Danger is the collaborative effort of several of the brightest in the field of carbon monoxide detection, combustion analysis, and remediation. This book is intended to address carbon monoxide issues encountered by; First Responders (Fire Department EMT personnel and other Paramedics) Inspectors (local government and independent home inspectors) Technicians (HVAC, Plumbers, and utility company workers).

Carbon Monoxide a Clear and Present Danger is divided into three distinctive sections:

Section 1-Carbon Monoxide (CO) Explains; what CO is, how CO is produced, health effects of CO exposure, how to respond an alarm, basic testing procedures, code compliance and exposure standards.

Section 2-Combustion: An in depth explanation combustion analysis, troubleshooting and remediation of CO production for both gas and oil fired appliances such as; boilers, furnaces, hot water heaters, clothes dryers, etc.

Section 3-Pressure Measurements: A primer on how building pressures effect the distribution of carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide awareness is critical to our safety, and we urge you to buy a copy and read it.

She's In Danger & So Are You

It looks safe enough, doesn't it?

Maybe you think she's in danger from a stalker or a schoolmate.

No, that's not it at all.

She's in danger because the library she's visiting was built on a landfill.

It emits a lot of methane.  It emits a lot of CO2.  Worse still, it emits a lot of H2S (hydrogen sulfide) and CO (carbon monoxide).

Three out of these four gases are not only invisible, but odorless, too.  Hydrogen sulfide has the odor of rotten eggs, but after being exposed to it for a little while, people get olfactory fatigue and can't tell it's there any more.

Exactly how much of these gases would you think could build up in this building?  How would you like to respond to a fire in this library not knowing flammable methane gas was coming up from the ground beneath it?

There are no gas detectors stationed throughout this library.

No one thought of it.

Or maybe a city official thought it would be an unnecessary expense to add them.

Is your city that cheap?

Worth thinking about.

If you're a HAZMAT responder, it's worth wondering where the landfills are, too.

He Thinks He's Tougher Than Carbon Monoxide

Over the years I've heard a lot of otherwise smart people tell me that you can build up a tolerance to carbon monoxide and a variety of other toxic gases.  For the purposes of this post, let's stick to carbon monoxide.

You can never, ever build up a tolerance to carbon monoxide.  The idea that you can is sheer stupidity.  But many people buy it.

But carbon monoxide seems to attract stupid ideas.  Years ago, I saw a plant worker sniffing near the compression fittings of a CO trans-fill panel board.  When I asked him what the hell he was doing, he told me, "I thought I smelled a leak."

This man was a college graduate.  He knew he couldn't smell carbon monoxide.  He'd been through every training course we had.  There were a stack of carbon monoxide detectors back in his office.  Why in the world would he think he could?

Worse yet, why would anyone put their nose near a suspected toxic gas leak?

I asked him that question.  Here's what he said:

"Well, you work around it long enough, you build up a tolerance."

"Who the hell told you that?"  I asked.

"It's common sense," he said.  "You breathe in CO when you smoke a cigarette, right?  First time you light one up you can't stand them.  Smoke them long enough and you get used to them.  Give you headaches at first, but after a while the headaches go away.  You get used to it.  Besides, it's not like it's arsine."

I've thought about him now and then when I see firefighters or other HAZMAT workers go into areas without gas monitors.  I wonder if they think carbon monoxide isn't that bad.  Or if they don't need gas detectors because they're used to being around the bad stuff.

Maybe they think they're too tough for carbon monoxide.

They're not.

A poison is a poison.

Movie crap aside, you just don't get used to poison.

You're mind just gets used to dying a bit faster, and sometimes a lot quicker.

The New and Improved Top Temp Gun

Top Temp Gun

A lot of people have written me asking where we've been, and the answer is that we've been re-developing out new Top Temp Gun.  I've field tested this unit so much it feels like a family member.

We still maintain the 100:1 distance to spot ratio. That means at a distance of 100 feet you'll be measuring a circle with a diameter of only one foot!  At 300 feet, you'll be measuring a circle of 3 feet in diameter.

We've expanded the temperature range from -76 degrees Fahrenheit to 2732 degrees Fahrenheit to allow for both endothermic and exothermic reactions.

And the scope.  You'll like it.  We already included a Class three laser targeting mechanism, but now we've added a green laser to make it easier to see what you're targeting.  It turns out that in different lighting conditions, one is easier to see than the other.

So now that we've finished re-designing this unit, we're ready to go back to work.

Next week we'll cover more training issues.